By Janee Law
One hundred and three foster children in Suffolk will receive a package of essentials ahead of Easter Sunday thanks to the efforts of a Greenlawn woman.
One volunteer decorated their “sweet case” — a package that includes items like a teddy bear, blanket, coloring book, crayons and a hygiene kit — with an image of Princess Poppy from the movie “Trolls.” Another added an image of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo.
Others added words of inspiration, like “Everything is Awesome,” or “Reach for the Stars.”
They did it at Rachael Risinger’s Greenlawn home on Sunday.
The sweet cases will be given to foster children across Suffolk as part of Risinger’s mission. Through a fundraising page on the website of Together We Rise, a nonprofit set on improving the lives of foster children in the country, Risinger collected funds for what she dubbed “Sweet Cases for Suffolk County.”
For the past year, she’s had this desire to take an active role in helping foster children, Risinger said.
She started following Together We Raise on Facebook and saw the different sweet case fundraisers they put together.
“So it was a combination of what I felt was in my heart and the opportunity offered from this organization to make it happen,” said Risinger, who has two sons, Noah and Lucas.
Instead of giving up something for Lent this year, Risinger decided to give back.
“It’s sad that when these kids are taken from their home that they come with nothing or their stuff is thrown into a garbage bag,” Risinger said. “The whole thing is heartbreaking.”
Risinger began the fundraiser on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 1, with the initial goal to raise $500 to provide 20 sweet cases. She said she hit that goal within two hours.
She then pushed her goal even further to $1,000 and 40 sweet cases. That goal was met by the end of the day. Again, she increased her goal. By March 14, she ended up with $2,905.87, which she used to produce the 103 sweet cases. As of deadline Wednesday, the fundraising page has raised $3,000.
With the funds being raised through Together We Rise, the organization provided Risinger with the bags and items for the sweet cases.
“We opened our home on Sunday, I invited all our friends that live around here in Greenlawn to come, decorate a bag and stuff it,” she said. “It was a great day and I was happy to have my house filled with friends and family to help the cause and help the kids.”
With 103 sweet cases ready to go in her garage, Risinger is hoping to deliver them to Suffolk County Child Protective Services before Easter.